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Mandatory evacuations lifted in California fire

Thursday - 5/1/2014, 10:10am  ET

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (AP) -- Firefighters battling a smoky blaze in the foothills east of Los Angeles are hoping to take advantage of a brief respite from the fierce, hot winds that initially pushed the fire into the path of more than 1,500 homes.

Winds that whipped the wildfire over 1,000 acres eased at sunset yesterday and mandatory evacuation orders were canceled.

However, forecasters say the winds could return this morning. That's led officials to order four high schools near the blaze to remain closed.

The fire erupted around 8 a.m. Wednesday in the foothills of the San Bernardino National Forest. More than 700 firefighters remain on the front lines, fighting the blaze with 55 fire engines and four bulldozers. The high winds have prevented them from using aircraft.

At their peak, the Santa Ana winds had gusted to 80 mph, with one gust recorded as high as 101 mph.

More of the same conditions are predicted for today, accompanied by temperatures that could top 100 degrees.

%@AP Links

071-a-10-(Teresa McMahon, spokeswoman, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, at news conference Wednesday)-"vandalism and-or theft"-Sheriff's spokeswoman Teresa McMahon says hundreds of people remain under evacuation. (1 May 2014)

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068-a-12-(Chief Mike Bell, Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department, at news conference Wednesday)-"did in 2003"-Rancho Cucamonga Fire Chief Mike Bell says rainy weather last week is helping them out now. (1 May 2014)

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066-r-02-(sound of authorities knocking on doors, when they were trying to get people to evacuate)--This is the sound of authorities knocking on doors when they were trying to get people to evacuate. COURTESY: KNBC TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (1 May 2014)

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070-a-06-(Mayor Dennis Michael, City of Rancho Cucamonga, former city fire chief, at news conference Wednesday)-"weather like this"-The mayor of Rancho Cucamonga, Dennis Michael, who used to serve as the city's fire chief, says it was important to bring in help from the county and federal governments as soon as the fire broke out. (1 May 2014)

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065-a-04-(Unidentified resident, in interview)-"gonna burn down"-This Rancho Cucamonga resident says he's standing by to evacuate if necessary. COURTESY: KNBC TV ((mandatory on-air credit)) (1 May 2014)

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067-a-19-(Chief Mike Bell, Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department, at news conference Wednesday)-"threat to structures"-Rancho Cucamonga Fire Chief Mike Bell says they're not sure how the wildfire began, but the wind quickly spread the flames. ((note length of cut)) (1 May 2014)

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069-a-13-(John Miller, spokesman, U.S. Forest Service-San Bernardino National Forest, at news conference Wednesday)-"off the mountains"-U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller says crews are trying to keep the fire from reaching residential areas. (1 May 2014)

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APPHOTO CAONT303: A resident talks on her phone as she watches the Etiwanda Fire in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Wednesday, April 30, 2014. The wildfire driven by surging Santa Ana winds sent a choking pall of smoke through foothill neighborhoods, forcing the evacuation of at least 1,650 homes and the closure of at least seven schools. No homes burned, but the smoke prompted mandatory evacuation orders for several areas of town nestled at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. More than 500 firefighters battled the flames near this city of 165,000 people. The fire was reported about 8 a.m., grew to 200 acres by noon, quadrupled in size within a few hours and continued to grow as it roared through dry brush.(AP Photo/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Will Lester) (30 Apr 2014)

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APPHOTO CAONT301: A woman who is evacuating her home carries a dog to a vehicle in smoke from the Etiwanda Fire in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Wednesday, April 30, 2014. The wildfire driven by surging Santa Ana winds sent a choking pall of smoke through foothill neighborhoods, forcing the evacuation of at least 1,650 homes and the closure of at least seven schools. No homes burned, but the smoke prompted mandatory evacuation orders for several areas of town nestled at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. More than 500 firefighters battled the flames near this city of 165,000 people. The fire was reported about 8 a.m., grew to 200 acres by noon, quadrupled in size within a few hours and continued to grow as it roared through dry brush. (AP Photo/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Will Lester) (30 Apr 2014)

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